The Top 5 Reasons NOT to Hire a Divorce Attorney
Written by: Tracy Augustin
You may be reading the title of this blog with skepticism.
I would, if I were you. Why would a divorce attorney be giving me reasons NOT to hire a divorce attorney? It seems wholly irrational, right? Well, put all of your misgivings by the wayside, because in this blog I’m going to be as forthcoming as possible when I tell you NOT everyone going through a divorcee NEEDS to hire an attorney.
And, yes, I have actually given this advice out during consultations with prospective clients on more than one occasion.
5. Hiring a divorce attorney could mean “mucho dinero” leaving your account
This may go without saying, but divorces can be expensive.
Divorce cases that involve each party having their own representation can get REALLY expensive. Think about it, couples going through divorce already have to pay court fees just to “process” the case, which are about $600 in Arizona divorces. That means from the jump, before the divorce attorney has billed one minute, the parties are out hundreds of dollars. Furthermore, a lot of time, divorce means that each person is going from a two-income household to a one-income household. That, in and of itself, can be financially crippling to some. Some of you might not be able to afford an attorney at $300 an hour to provide you the help you need, no matter how bad you need the help, unfortunately.
4. You will be the one calling the shots
Who’s the boss: the client or the attorney? Great question, huh?
Well, certain ethical rules govern what decisions can be made by the attorney without client input versus what decisions REQUIRE client input and consent. To be honest, the majority of the decisions family law attorneys make are at the request or approval of their client. There’s not much action that the attorney can take without client consent.
So, in reality, the client is essentially already the boss. That said, your attorney will be there to guide you in your decisions along the way. Think of your attorney as a coach. Technically, your coach can’t make you do anything because you are the player in the game, so to speak, but they can give you guidance throughout the game.
They can also tell you what decision you should make. In my experience, despite my years of practice and knowledge of this area of law, some clients JUST WANT TO BE THE BOSS and are comfortable doing this. If you are already running the show, do you really need an attorney? Maybe?…But maybe not.
3. You will potentially avoid lots of drama
I hate to say it, but sometimes attorneys make matters worse.
Okay, confession time, I really don’t hate to say this at all. In fact, it’s one of my biggest complaints about other attorneys in the industry: attorneys can make a bad situation worse.
Of course, not all attorneys fit this bill. In fact, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing attorneys in highly contentious family matters. However, there are times when a relatively amicable divorce can go downhill quickly with the wrong attorney on the case.
These attorneys thrive on and create additional conflicts between the parties. Many times, these were never even potential conflicts to begin with. For example, I was involved in family law case where both parties were known smokers, and the other attorney wanted specific language in the parenting plan that Father could not smoke in his residence, but included no mutual provision restricting Mother from doing the same.
There was no proof or even allegations that my client smoked in the home. But, obviously, after reviewing this one-sided restriction, my client became personally offended. In fact, we almost didn’t settle the case because of situations where the other attorney was continuously stirring the pot, instead of letting it simmer.
2. To ensure that the decisions being made about your family are being left to…YOUR FAMILY!
Having an amicable divorce gives you and your ex the POWER to fulfill your family’s own destiny!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: do you really want a judge, lawyer, parenting coordinator, etc. determining how you parent your children? Do you want these same people telling you what’s fair when it comes to divvying assets and debts? Or, do you want the ability to craft your own creative agreements that may or may not be part of a standard divorce?
As an example, the general rule in Arizona is that the child support obligation ends at the age of 18 or graduation from high school, right? But, practically speaking, do either of these milestones actually end a parent’s actual financial support of their children? Probably not, right? Most parents probably continue to help financially support their children in common when and if they can.
And, sometimes it’s important to memorialize these agreements and/or expectations about the support of children beyond their 18th birthday. Some parties include provisions in their settlement documents that address the division of expenses if/when the child is in college. Some parties include agreements regarding life insurance policies on the parents for the benefit of the minor children. Most of these “creative” agreements would not otherwise be court orders, but for the mutual agreement of the parties.
And finally…the number one reason not to hire a divorce attorney is…
1. Money, money, money!
To reiterate, unless you have a lot to gain financially in your divorce, if, for the most part, you and your ex are amicable and can reach fair and equitable agreements on your own, why would you want to waste your money on an attorney?
Many Phoenix family law attorneys are charging between $4,000 and $5,000 for their advanced fees.
My family is planning a Disneyworld trip in 2015, and this amount of money would easily cover the trip, including airfare. Instead of spending money on an attorney, save that money for a post-divorce party and/or trip! I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather spend that kind of money on something positive.
I have never had a client come and tell me that she made everlasting memories with me in her divorce case. I’ve also never had a client send me pictures of the two of us together in front of our nation’s treasures. Rather, even with clients who have gotten the best possible outcome, paying me is more like paying the air conditioner repair man when the AC goes out in Phoenix in the middle of July…it’s a necessary evil. Going through litigation is stressful, so if you can avoid it, more power to you!
Don’t forget to send me a postcard when all is said and done!!!